The House of Representatives will soon vote on H.R. 1, the “For the People Act.”
This proposal would fundamentally transform how elections are conducted in the United States, would politicize the Federal Elections Commission, and would directly violate constitutional mandates like free speech and states’ freedom to determine their own election laws.
It is telling that H.R. 1 is Democrats’ top priority at a time when the U.S. has millions of people out of work, efforts need to be made to get America vaccinated, and schools need to reopen.
ATR urges a NO vote and may include this vote in its annual scorecard.
- H.R. 1 would politicize the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Under current law, the FEC is comprised of a six-member bipartisan committee: three Republicans and three Democrats. In order to move forward with any prosecution of alleged campaign violations or investigations, the FEC needs four votes. This law would limit the member number to five, therefore including two Republicans, two Democrats, and one “independent” from a minor political party. Under this rule, a president could appoint a Bernie Sanders-style “independent” to serve as the fifth member of the FEC. To make matters worse, under this law, a president could also pick the Chairman of the FEC, all but ensuring total presidential control of the Commission.
- H.R. 1 forces taxpayers to subsidize political campaigns through the implementation of a 600% match for certain political contributions to congressional and presidential candidates. In addition to being a poor use of taxpayer money, this attempt to end political corruption actually creates greater opportunity for corruption. The idea behind taxpayer-funded campaigns is that they would reduce corruption. If candidates don’t depend on special interests for funds, they would not be vulnerable to pressure from those special interests once in office. In reality, taxpayer-funded campaign measures open the door to new kinds of corruption while existing means of corruption still stand.
- H.R. 1 is also unconstitutional, as it invalidates numerous state election laws. Article I Section IV of the U.S. Constitution empowers states to determine the “Times, Places and Manner of holding elections…” H.R. 1 would make significant strides in stripping states of this power. It would force states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration, and no-fault absentee balloting. Additionally, the bill would invalidate voter identification laws all across the country by allowing voters to simply sign a statement affirming their identity as they enter their polling place.
- H.R. 1 suppresses free speech. This law would implement a “public file” requirement for any person or organization spending over $500 in a calendar year, forcing them to identify the name, address, and contact information of ad sponsors that are not candidates or with the campaign. It also invents a new regulation called “PASO,” an overbroad standard that asks whether political speech “promotes,” “attacks,” “supports,” or “opposes” a candidate or official. In addition, it transforms the “stand by your ad” disclaimer in video advertisements, forcing organizations to identify their top five donors at the end of advertisements. With the incredible rise in partisanship, cancel culture, and doxing, it is more important than ever to protect donor privacy. This isn’t a matter of transparency; rather, it is a new tool to chill speech.
ATR Urges all Members of the House of Representatives to reject H.R. 1, the “For the People Act.”